Chronic wasting disease (CWD) adversely affects both wild and captive cervid populations. A vaccine to prevent CWD would be a highly desirable tool to aid in disease management. To this end, we tested in mule deer a combination of CWD vaccines consisting of cervid prion peptide sequences 168-VDQYNNQNTFVHDC-182 and 145-NDYEDRYYRENMYRYPNQ-164 that had previously been shown to delay onset of clinical disease and increase survival in a mouse-adapted scrapie model. Thirteen captive mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) were divided into vaccine (n=7) and control groups (n=6), and given prime and boost vaccinations intramuscularly 5 wk apart. Eight weeks postprime (3 wk postboost), all animals were challenged via natural exposure to an environment contaminated with infective CWD prions. Deer were monitored intermittently for prion infection by rectal and tonsil biopsies beginning 275 days postchallenge. All vaccinates responded to both peptide conjugates present in the combination vaccine as measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. However, all deer eventually became infected regardless of vaccine status.
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Vol. 49 • No. 3